Adjacent tweets

I received these two tweets within 16 minutes of each other today.

From @VOM_USA:

On May 2, a bomb attack killed one person and injured at least 50 Christian students. Pray for comfort and safety in Mosul.

From @persecutionnews:

UK Christian student labeled ‘truant’ for refusing to visit mosque. ^dg

Assume everything you say will be made public–because it will be

The lesson of Lance Baxter’s dumb voice mail left on the Freedom Works system is this:

Whenever you send an e-mail, whenever you leave a voice mail, whenever you sit in a cubicle and speak loudly on the phone, whenever you have a conversation in a hallway at work, even when you and your spouse have a conversation in the car with the kids in the back seat, assume that everything you’re saying might end up on the front page of the newspaper or on … because it might. Tailor your conversation according to that possibility.

That lesson was drilled into us when I worked at a daily newspaper. It helps avoid a lot of libel problems, to begin with. Plus, it keeps things civil and keeps you from saying something you’ll regret later.

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23, ESV)

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! (James 3:5, ESV, my itals)

Even more important are the eternal implications. Saved or not, we’ll answer for everything we’ve done, which includes every word we’ve spoken. Everything, even done in secret, will be brought into the light.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12, ESV)

For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17, ESV)

The holidays– oops, sorry … Christmastime is here

It must be getting close to Christmas: The strains of Liberty Counsel griping about alleged anti-Christmas bias in cultural and commercial venues through the use of “happy holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” can be heard. The Christian legal organization has posted its annual “Naughty & Nice List,” with the added phrase “Friend or Foe 2009.” 

We’re going to draw a line in the sand over a holiday greeting?

This complaining started a few years back when LC’s Mat Staver and several other  Christian cultural watchdogs determined that merely wishing people “Happy holidays” in December was an affront to those who celebrate Christmas.

Now, as a messianic believer in Jesus, I don’t celebrate Christmas, for reasons which I hope to get into in another post this year. I suppose that would put me in the “Foe” category. Technically, though, I wouldn’t even make it to the “Naughty” side of the list, because I don’t wish anybody “Happy holidays” either, figuring it would be hypocritical. I don’t think it’s right for Christians to celebrate Christmas, so why would I wish them “Happy holidays”?

All that taken into consideration, though, I have never understood what was so offensive about “Happy holidays.”

When I was growing up, back in the 1960s and ’70s, the expression was very common and made sense. To me, it always was shorthand for “Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.” Later on, when I learned about Hanukkah, I figured it also incorporated that in a happy pappy multicultural way. (A few years ago, “Happy holidays” hit the jackpot when Ramadan and the holidays following the Islamic fast also fell in December.)

Watch TV during that time period, expecially close to the Dec. 25-Jan. 1 axis, and “Happy Holidays” was a common message during station-break voiceovers and could usually be seen superimposed over screens that showed football or basketball game scores.

And there was the song “Happy Holiday” (even more insulting since it uses the singular and doesn’t even try to hide it’s about Christmas?), made popular by Andy Williams (sung below by the Williams Brothers and Osmond Brothers, including a very young Donnie Osmond):

When that song was all over the airwaves (and it may be still, though not on the airwaves I frequent), and when the expression was all over TV and even uttered by ardent practitioners of Christmas, I never heard a single protest.

Now, all of a sudden, it’s a war, according to Staver in this news release.

The war against Christmas is nothing new. Repressive forces have always had the same goal – to first secularize and then to eliminate Christmas.

Actually, the secularization of Christmas has been going on for quite some time in America, where it has happily co-existed with the religious celebration of Christmas (another sign that Christmas may not be a good holiday for Christians to celebrate, but that’s a topic for that other post).

But in his statement, Staver equates clerks at Banana Republic saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” with Communist/Marxist secularization of the holiday as a way to oppress Christianity.

Huh. Funny. Here I thought it was free speech. And, in fact, an exercise of the free market. Maybe these businesses are trying to include everyone, Jewish, Christian or whatever, so as not to offend anyone and hurt their business. Maybe they figure if they say “Merry Christmas” to everyone, they’ll offend someone and lose business. I’d love to see what Staver would have to say about Wal-Mart employees saying, during Dec. 11-19 of this year, “Happy Hanukkah” to all their customers instead of “Merry Christmas.” Or what about businesses that wish people a “Happy Passover” during the Easter season? How about “Happy New Year” at Rosh Hashanah?

And what about the fact that just about every business in the country, not to mention the entire government, shuts down on Christmas Day, and sometimes on Christmas Eve? Is that not enough of an acknowledgment of Christmas? Does Staver want to control every facet of how they conduct their business?

Actually, now that I think about it, “holiday” means “holy day,” doesn’t it? So people wishing others “Happy holidays” are actually wishing them “Happy holy days,” which in a way is a complete capitulation to the claim that Christmas is a holy day. So taking Liberty Counsel’s approach actually could be considered counterproductive.

Ultimately, the whole “Happy holiday” to-do comes across to me as another excuse for American Christians to gripe about something, in this case, something not really all that important. No, I’m not saying the incarnation of Christ is not important; I tend to focus on it during the Feast of Tabernacles, which is about God dwelling with man. I’m saying a manufactured holiday isn’t all that important. And, even if it you have given it a high importance in good faith, choosing to get bent out of shape by something like “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” to the extent of creating an enemies list like Staver has done is a huge overreaction. Especially when you consider such challenges as a 75 percent departure rate of young people from the Christian faith, an average of 3,500 abortions performed daily, and believers imprisoned around the world for their faith.

I’m not saying that we don’t live in a society or culture or even nation hostile to the Gospel. We do. There are many things to be concerned about in this country due to its departure from godly laws and behavior. The United States and Western civilization as a whole is going down the crapper.

Instead of addressing these issues, though, many U.S. Christians have chosen to don the victim robe–which they are usually quick to criticize others for doing. It must be an equality thing: We want to feel slighted like everyone else does.

One problem, though. God has called Christians to not be like everyone else (Lev. 20:7, 1 Peter 1:14-15). He has called us to be “separate,” or holy.

So, happy holy days.

Um, biblically speaking, that is.

Warren does the soft shoe for Muslims — again

Megapurposedrivel pastor Rick Warren spoke again to a major Islamic group last month, this time the Islamic Society of North America, an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving an organization that funded the terrorist group Hamas. Warren called on Christians and Muslims around the world to work together for the better good. An enticing message; who doesn’t want to work for the “better good”? But does that mean surrendering our identity in Christ?

In this report, at least, there is again not a word from Warren about the eternal destiny of those who don’t confirm Christ as Lord and Savior.

More on public education

Voddie Baucham posted this recently about public education (emphases mine):

Education is discipleship; whomever we allow to educate our children is discipling our children.  “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40 ESV). 

If I knew for a fact the school down the street could ensure better test scores for my children, I still wouldn’t give them my children!  I am commanded to bring my children up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and to do so by teaching them God’s statutes when I sit in my house, when I lie down, when I rise up, and when I walk along the way (Deut. 6:7).  I am also admonished not to place myself, or by extension my children, under false teaching (Col. 2:8), or to expose them to teaching that undermines God’s Law (Matt. 5:17-20).  Instead, I must teach them to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5), to refuse to be “conformed to the pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:2), and meditate on God’s Law day and night (Ps. 1:2). 

Yes, the academic argument is a potent one.  However, it pales in comparison to the biblical/theological argument for Christian discipleship through education.  Still, one wonders how any parent who truly loves his or her child and wants the ‘best’ for them could look at a study like this and still drop them off at the local government indoctrination center later this month.  But anyone who has been engaged in this discussion longer than a few days knows exactly what the answer to this charge will be… “OUR SCHOOLS ARE DIFFERENT!” (I even heard this argument from a woman in a school district in Georgia that had lost it’s accreditation!)

Parents do love their children.  Unfortunately, many parents are simply misinformed, and quite inert when it comes to the education question.  Prayerfully, studies like the “Progress Report” and updates like “The Continuing Collapse” will open a few more eyes.  In fact, I have met and/or corresponded with at least half a dozen families this summer who decided to leave government schools as a result of information they have received from these and other sources.  It seems there are some minds ready to “unplug from the Matrix” after all.

The study he refers to in the third paragraph is here.

WCIC, should we help the ungodly?

A verse my pastor brought up during his sermon on Sabbath jumped out at me as being applicable to WCIC’s call for volunteers to staff School District 150’s registration this week.

The context is the return of Jeshoshaphat, king of Judah, from a battle in which he had joined with Ahab, king of Israel (2 Chronicles 18). Jehu, son of the prophet Hanani, confronts him:

But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD. (2 Chronicles 19:2 ESV)

And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. (2 Chronicles 19:2 KJV)

Should we love those who hate the Lord? Should we help the ungodly?

That’s hard to hear. It doesn’t sit well with our culture. Yet we are also told by Messiah that we should love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. The question is, do we go looking for a way to help them achieve their purpose if their purpose is ungodly? I don’t think the Master was suggesting that we enable drug users to further their habit by buying drugs for them. Or burglars by serving as lookouts. Or government schools that undermine biblical values by helping make sure children are able to attend them.

Post at First Fruits of Zion

Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion has posted my reaction to the ministry’s change of approach to the obligation for Christians to keep Torah (a/k/a Jewish law).

Registering a complaint about WCIC’s plans

WCIC-FM, 91.5 in Peoria, is recruiting 150 volunteers to staff Peoria School District 150’s registration process.

I have no doubt that the intentions of WCIC and the volunteers are good. But I still believe that to do this is to aid and abet an enemy of the Church — or, at the very least, an impediment to the Gospel.

Dave Brooks, station manager at WCIC, told me that:

As a station we’re committed to challenging and encouraging the Christian community to put faith into action. We want to do what we can to make the Peoria area a better place to live, work and raise our families. We want to engage with the love of Christ in the marketplace of ideas.

And while Dave has said he believes the volunteers will be “expressing the heart of Christ” to the schools and children by helping out, offering a “cup of cold water to them,” WCIC is also in essence agreeing to muzzle itself from offering the Gospel: A District 150 rep told me that no volunteers will be free to share their religious beliefs and/or minister to the children or parents.

That’s fine and good, since it’s 150’s turf, but it doesn’t do much for “expressing the heart of Christ.” Agreeing to get involved in a volunteer effort for a biblical reason and, at the same time, agreeing not to mention anything biblical seems a bit contradictory. You could make the argument, I suppose, that they’re showing and acting out the Gospel rather than just talking about it. I don’t think it quite flies, though. A different argument that would hold more cold water, though, would be that registering kids for school isn’t the time or place for offering the Gospel — although is there really a time or place when the Gospel shouldn’t be offered? Should we ever agree to that?

The point, though, is that they shouldn’t be there at all. In my opinion, they are helping an organization that doesn’t exactly have the best interests of the Church at heart.

(Then again, what do we do about the Bible-believing, committed disciples of Christ who are employed by public school districts? I don’t think they should be working in them, but I also know that it’s between them and the Lord. That’s my feeling about the individual volunteers in this situation as well.)

Please understand I’m not saying we should ignore the public school system. Helping the children who attend the government schools in Peoria or other communities directly is one thing. Peoria Dream Center, for instance, has a laudable program which provides poor students of any school with school supplies. Local churches participate in Bear Buddy programs, forming direct relationships with children to encourage them in their studies and in life. Organizations like the Women’s Pregnancy Center are allowed to conduct abstinence workshops. Good News Clubs are allowed to meet on school property afterhours. South Side Mission caters to public school students by tutoring them after school is over.

All are good examples of ministries being able to step into children’s lives and show them that the Body of Christ cares.

WCIC’s effort to provide volunteers for District 150 registration, however, only shows the government school bureaucracy that the Body of Christ is ready to help it in its efforts to harm the Church’s efforts to spread the Gospel and a holy way of life.

It is no secret that public school systems these days are hostile to the Bible, or at least living in a court-ordered neutrality. Teaching of Scripture is forbidden in them; prayer is significantly curtailed. This perhaps was an inevitable turn of events as the nation became more pluralistic and as humanism gained a foothold in more facets of American society, especially the government’s educational system. It’s the way it is and doesn’t look likely to change.

However, public schools also actively oppose Bible-believing Christianity. Evolution, for example, is taught as fact. Tolerance of lifestyles described in Scripture as abominations is encouraged. In addition, public schools also are stages for sexual immorality, drug use, gang activity and indulgence in the darker aspects of our culture — inevitable outcomes of a godless institution.

I feel that to aid in this process is an embarrassment to the Body of Christ. It sends the message that the government school system, with all of its hostilities to biblical ways of life, is perfectly acceptable to the Body of Christ in the Peoria area. As I noted above, there are other ways to help children; helping the bureaucracy that rules them academically and culturally is not one of them.

Dave Brooks, of course, disagrees. I’ll let him have the last word:

I feel I understand the reason you raised concerns. If by our effort to help with District 150’s back to school registration 91.5 WCIC is implicitly condoning everything being promulgated in classrooms of public schools across the listening area I would share your concerns. Hopefully most listeners will not draw that conclusion.

I look forward to your comments. I also ask you to take poll below:

Lashon Hara

I strongly recommend listening to Daniel Lancaster’s three sermons on Lashon Hara, or the evil tongue. The messianic teacher explains how Scripture looks at gossip and the roles it plays in our lives and communities. You can find the mp3s here.

The great IHS cover-up

Does the cover-up of the IHS symbol for the name of Jesus during an address by Barack Obama at Georgetown University mean that:

  • Obama wanted to obliterate reference to the Savior?
  • Obama wanted to avoid unnecessary church-state entanglements (even though speaking at a Catholic university kind of assumes there will be such)?
  • Obama modestly wanted to make sure there was no equation between himself and the Messiah?